Video Games Merging with Fashion

This week on Project Runway we got a bit of insight into the video game world, and the designers got to merge that industry with fashion. The designers met Karlie on the runway, first hearing video game noises, then seeing a game character, which turned out to be Karlie’s alter ego. Joining Karlie on the runway was Robin Hunicke, co-founder of Funomena (worked with the SIMS game, tenure professor at UC Santa Cruz, & THIS WEEK’S GUEST JUDGE), Mitu Khandaker (professor at the NYU Game Center), & Nina Freeman (video game designer). These amazing ladies would also be there to help the designers for this week’s challenge.

The designers’ challenge for the week was to create a female video game protagonist with a functional and stylish look. This video game character would need a story and to have an ability. The designers were cautioned to not go too costumey. The designers lucked out in having another 2-day challenge. This is certainly one program format change I have noticed, the designers receiving quite a few 2-day challenges. I am not sure it has created an overwhelming number of successful looks, but it’s hard to imagine some of these designers coping well with too many 1-day challenges! Also this week, instead of a race to model comp cards, all of the designers would be keeping their same models.

First up for the week, mentor time with some of the leading women in the video game industry. Some of the designers looked at games, seeing how a character could encompass being anyone; the designers didn’t have to create themselves for this challenge. Others got to see how algorithms and coding worked into the games. After these mentor sessions, it was off to Mood. Christian reminded the designers this look was to be fashion, not a costume. Another change I have noticed this season is slightly larger budgets, or at least from what I recall in the past. This week the designers were allotted $300. While at Mood, many of the designers were going for red fabrics. Christian was urging the designers to be more creative and not just all go for red. Venny was one who changed up his color choice, then later finding himself overbudget by $90. He had to cut some major corners!

As the designers got back to the workroom, animators were there to work with the designers to create a digital version of their characters. It was soon time for Siriano Sessions. He reminded a couple to not be boring. He was intrigued by others, such as Hester & Bishme. And he was all about Garo’s whip! Getting into the 2nd day, Garo began with some hammer-time. Tessa went a more quiet route, really needing that laser focus to work on her look. Later in the day were model fittings. Tessa had some doubts with Hester’s look, thinking it was treading the line of a costume. Venny was worried over his lack of fabric and then couldn’t even do his fun shoe idea as it was too small for his model. Jamall was running real low on time. Sonia was having a major fit issue and thinking she might have a lot of work to redo.

With so much to do for some, it was back to work. The designers were excited to see their digital illustrations. And poor Jamall! He made some alteration marks during fittings and then ironed away those marks, yikes! The designers had been working so hard and decided to have a little fun on the way home. They took a ferry, and enjoyed goofing off a bit, doing some runway walks & posing. Fun time aside, it was back to work for the morning of the runway. Many designers still had so much to do. Rakan was very unsure on his makeup choices, like literally having no ideas for the makeup artist. Jamall decided to scrap a mesh top for his look. He had spent so much time on the tailoring of his suit. Christian did express disappointment in that choice. A few designers were working right up until the runway began. Rakan was one such who was cutting away very quickly, right until the last seconds.

Before breaking down the judges’ top & bottom choices, here are my thoughts on the rest! I can’t help but see Lela in a battle with Tessa because they both work in a minimalist aesthetic. Tessa clearly has won each week, so I generally feel less than impressed with Lela’s work. She said this look was representative of femininity & power, I get the feminine aspect, but nothing with power. Sonia has impressed me each week, but came up short in this challenge. The styling choices she made really took her look to a costume level. I loved her story (empathy powers), she chose a gorgeous color, and the look had such great flow. But this felt like a rather basic dress with a lot going on for hair & makeup.

Sebastian has been on top lots as of late, but also came up short this week. I felt his look was more dated, more historical, than that of a video game character or a Moon Goddess as he dubbed this look. I didn’t feel it embodying a strong woman. Not his best work, but just okay. I guess that is why Lela, Sonia & Sebastian found themselves safe. I was on the fence about Bishme. I really thought he brought something so different to the table and so for that, I felt this was a top look! His woman was a goddess, or a Queen of Hearts as he called this look, and one with such a gorgeous, long back train. It was a little over the top, but could work in a game setting!

I also really felt Renee should have been in the top. She stayed trued to her aesthetic and created still a hardcore, bad ass look. Renee says “sensitive warrior”, which I feel is perfect depiction. Her mixed media choices were amazing. The top with the embellished neckline and the draped silver sash piece were just so stunning. I could have lived with Bishme being out of the top, but Renee was very much deserving. So even though Hester got the win, that would have been the person I would have had to take away from the judges’ list. Hester’s look was very Hester. So for remaining true to her aesthetic, I certainly applaud. But this look was a fun girl, not someone I felt fit the challenge parameters in creating a strong female protagonist. I mean even the name of the look, Star Raver, I take that as a depiction of fun, maybe a little adventurous, but that adventure side, I wasn’t seeing in this piece. Nonetheless the pants were super dope and she made some great styling choices.

Tessa created a great look, so seeing her in the top was deserving. She really created such a character, something very different and unique. And even though this was for a video game character, the Miller’s daughter, it was still super wearable. I didn’t even notice until later, she created an apron, which was the part that folded down, super creative!

But Garo was in my original top list, as well as the judges. I felt this was the winning look. I definitely got the point the judges were making in that a strong women didn’t have to be defined by being a dominatrix, but that doesn’t take away from this type of empowerment. And Garo really created such strength here and didn’t do so in a cheesy or tasteless way. Super hilarious that everyone thought this was Nina in a sense and I guess it might have been since Gara said this was a Fashion Editrix character!

The bottom 3 couldn’t have been more spot on. I also agreed that Rakan was clearly the right choice in being sent home. As for the other bottom 2 spot, it was hard to choose between Jamall and Venny. Neither should have felt safe. Jamall I thought was deserving for having not got another challenge. But I think the judges put Venny there to shake him a bit — seeing just as you were on the top last week, doesn’t mean you can’t go home the next week! So Jamall being saved from the bottom 2 was inconsequential since it was super clear it was Rakan’s time. I liked his idea, but this look was cheap. It looked like pleather, it was not constructed well, and it read like a superhero costume. It was not functional fashion. I don’t even think his story for the character, a Syrian Queen, made sense. It also made no sense what he said after the critiques that the best 3 designers were in the bottom. So 2 designers who have constantly been in the bottom and one who really didn’t even deserve his top placements are the three best in this competition?? I don’t think so!

So again, Jamall should feel super lucky he was saved, again. Last week his look didn’t make sense when looking at the challenge parameters and neither did his look this week. The suit fit okay, but it was not a video game character. It was too basic for this challenge task. Why when given this type of challenge do you think of a suit?? Scrapping that mesh top I don’t think would have kept him out of the bottom, but it would have helped this look tremendously in terms of at least not being basic.

And finally, looking at Venny’s outfit, I also didn’t get what he was thinking in this creation. Also similar to my critique with Jamall, why would you go to this type of look when thinking of a video game character?? This look was one you might see as part of a church choir, definitely not a Savior of the World! I think back to his changing of a color choice at Mood, per Christian’s suggestion, and also having to cut corners when being overbudget. You might think this led to his bottom placement, but if this was his idea all along, those 2 points would have no bearing here. More fabric was not going to help this look and instead of a blue look, this creation wouldn’t have been any bit of success in red.

The Designers Go Luxe with Streetwear

I am not the biggest fan of streetwear, but at least if I am going to look at a whole challenge comprised of this style, it might as well be LUXE & high-end! This challenge was inspired by trailblazer Dapper Dan, known for introducing high fashion to the hip hop world by creating luxury streetwear. The task at hand would be for each designer to create their own take on the future of streetwear, taking into account the inspiration of Dapper Dan’s work.

There would be no trip to Mood this week as the designers were provided with a great deal of high end fabrics to choose from and use for their looks. This would be a 1-day challenge. Renee, as the winner from last week, chose to keep her model, while the rest of the designers were randomly assigned models by Karlie. The designers enjoyed meeting with Dapper Dan and were pleased to learn he would be visiting the workroom to give his take on their looks.

As the designers were back to the workroom to get started, many designers were getting their ideas going, such as Kovid wanting to create multiple pieces. However some designers, such as Sebastian, were stressing right from the onset, noting streetwear is not something he typically does. Christian was around next for his Siriano sessions. We got to see everyone was wanting to do a bomber jacket. There was some excitement for Renee, while Hester seemed to be a bit all over the place. Christian was confused about Rakan’s idea of a farmer woman? And we were all really left to wonder if Jamall was even getting this challenge?

Christian then announced this would be a flash sale challenge, so the designers had to take special photos for the Instagram stories and this would be the chance where winning looks would be sold thru Nineteenth Amendment online. Next up, model fittings! Christian was still around and seemed very bothered that Rakan and Jamall were taking breaks at this time. The designers do need to eat, but maybe during a short model fitting time is not the best idea?!? But as this was a 1-day challenge, it was time to really get to work! Tessa decided to incorporate her brand name into the inner part of her jacket, hand-painted, so we then got to see her version of a fun drying technique, which was basically running around the workroom, air drying! Kovid was in major freakout mode, which I really saw as no surprise. And there was a little debate on Sebastian’s look from both Tessa & Rakan, over his sleeves.

Dapper Dan made his appearance the morning of the runway. He was very excited by some of the looks! But even with this special appearance, there was still a good bit of work to do for some, especially Jamall. And while Dapper Dan was not going to be a guest judge, we were welcoming a guest judge to the panel, Founder & President of Harlem’s Fashion Row, Brandice Daniel.

Of the 2 minimalist designers, Lela (pictured above) & Tessa (pictured below), Tessa definitely did a better job in this challenge. I don’t think either really stood out against some of the better looks this week. I do think Tessa created a solid look, but most of her intricacies just kind of fell flat on the runway. I at least found some positive with Tessa. However Lela created a rather boring look. I didn’t see anything super high end or with a nod to the future with her look. Both were fitting of their safe status.

What Hester created was very Hester, but I don’t know if it was streetwear. I saw this more as festival fashion, something you would see at Coachella. The color, the sparkle, the sheer overlay to her short, just really took this out of the streetwear element. I loved Sonia’s look, but in a similar critique to that of Hester, I didn’t see streetwear elements here. I couldn’t give this a top status for that reason. Regardless though, this was such a super chic look, the bodice, the neckline, so amazing.

But 2 designers I have to give props to, that both would have been in my top 3 were Sebastian and Renee. For Sebastian not having any clue on streetwear, this was an impressive look. I loved the pants! Perhaps one could argue there was a lot going on between his jacket-style sleeves, the pins, and the criss cross top, but I did see this hitting the challenge mark. This was elevated street style with a modern vibe. I also really loved what Renee created. This was a super dope look. She really did a lot of great work here, especially the jacket! The pop of sparkle was not overwhelming and the plaid addition was sublime! Renee or Sebastian would have been way more deserving of top 3 than Venny!

This is the 2nd time Venny has been in the top 3, where I have been left really perplexed. He was in no way a contender for the actual win either time. This look was not elevated enough for me, sort of a snooze. I also don’t think he did well with a plus size look. The judges saw it as streetwear, which I don’t disagree with, but this wasn’t high end or something with a modern feel.

Joining Venny in the top 3 was Garo & Bishme. I didn’t hate this look, but I also didn’t love it. The wasitband detail was not working for me. The tweed was okay, but I definitely didn’t care for the zippered neckline. I didn’t agree with the judges’ assessment for this look.

But a clear contender for the win with this top 3, definitely deserving of a top spot was Bishme. The judges fell absolutely in love with this look. It really hit the mark so well across the board for the challenge. It was streetwear, super luxe, and bringing something new to the table. He chose the perfect color with this cobalt blue for the jacket.

The bottom 3 consisted of Rakan, Jamall, and Kovid. Kovid and Jamall clearly being the bottom 2. I don’t know if Rakan really deserved a bottom 3 placement. I actually kind of liked this look from him, probably the best of anything I have seen from him. I guess I sort of got what the designers were saying in this looking a bit like a “genie” look. It probably would have also come across more street in flats or sneakers, versus heels. I didn’t dislike this as much as the judges did, but I did agree with Nina’s assessment — it felt safe.

This was a tough bottom 2 because both looks were pretty awful. If the judges were making a decision based only on this challenge, clearly Jamall would have been out. But given Kovid has consistently been in the bottom and how super obvious this competition was just not for him, the right call was made in him leaving this week. Jamall really should be breathing a huge sigh of relief. This could have been an easy challenge for a double elimination and both would have been fitting for elimination. If it was not already confusing how Jamall saw his teaparty dress as street, I believe we all got even more confused listening to him explain that this look was also inspired from black culture. The look not fitting the challenge aside, it was also riddled with technical issues, which the judges definitely pointed out.

Ultimately though, it was Kovid’s time to go. I actually feel Kovid has a very street aesthetic to his look. In fact, his top look from the prints challenge was super street. I don’t know how he then really missed the mark here! I am glad the judges pointed out how out of place the top was in this look. This was one of my first notes! But there was no nod here to the future, it was very much looking back at the past.

Designers — Survival of the Fittest

The new season of Project Runway already gave us a first group challenge, and now, it was time for the first unconventional materials task. I have to admit, I was a little confused on the task at hand. I really was interested to see who would use the unconventional materials the best, but the part I was hung up on was that the looks needed to be survival chic?? I saw lots of pretty dress-like looks that really didn’t do much by way of providing protection for the model. But then I also saw more chic outerwear, really making use of the unconventional materials. That all being said, I was fairly impressed by what the designers did and am really interested to see a few designers and how they grow throughout this season!

So the episode began with the designers being whisked away for a camping trip. I feel a few thought they were going somewhere a little more glam, but nope, it was off to the woods in Staten Island! Everything was moved to this campsite, the work stations, the accessory wall, and even the runway show! The designers would have to battle in the elements in order to stay in the competition. This really would be survival of the fittest! The designers would even be camping overnight, but Christian was definitely not going to be partaking in that endeavor!

Marni would be back for some styling help. And the designers were blessed with another 2-day challenge to get their nature looks completed. The designers had 20 minutes to gather their materials. Hester was a little upset since her pile created, people started taking from it. It seemed the couple of girls who took items gave them back, but Hester still felt some items were missing. But there was no time for dawdling as the designers were eager to begin work. Tessa decided to create her own loom, to help weave a fabric out of the ropes. Sebastian was in full leaf crazy mode. While Afa was having a floral debate in terms of adding flower embellishment creations to his look.

Marni & Christian later came by to see what the designers had been working on to get started. They expressed excitement for a few, such as with Sonia & Hester. They were a little concerned for Kovid since he had a lot going on with his many different types of materials. Nighttime one was celebrated with some s’mores before lights out at the campsite.

Day 2 involved model fittings. Everyone was worried about the colder temperatures, especially with their models walking around with no clothes on. Christian was still around for his time with the designers, and he urged to get a bit more from Renee & Rakan with their looks. Day 2 went by super quick and for the 2nd overnight, the designers were all about getting a warm fire started!

The morning of the runway began super early, 530 am! There was a lot of talk going on, if it was going to rain, which in fact it did. But rain or shine, the runway was happening!

I wasn’t so sure about this bottom 3. There were a good handful of looks that felt very sloppy, really just felt unresolved. I thought Kovid was really the only solid one that belonged. Anyone else, there was some room for debate, so it was more astonishing to then see Afa get eliminated! Before jumping on that, a few other quick mentions. I wasn’t feeling Jamall’s look at all. This is the 2nd look he has created that just look liked an overworked comforter. The entire look felt messy, with a bunch of leaves scattered all over the place.

Bishme created a really cool skirt with the rocks. And I also loved the reveal for what was under the jacket. But the jacket he created was not at all repurposed enough.

Switching to a more positive note, I am not sure given the challenge parameters if Sebastian’s leaf look really fit the bill. But that aside, this was a gorgeous couture leaf creation — STUNNING!!

If Renee landed in the top with her more outerwear look, I am a little shocked Venny’s look then fell short from the top. He created a gorgeous outerwear piece, that was actually fashionable. The intricacies of the rope-work & use of chains he did on the jacket was amazing.

Moving onto the judges’ actual top 3, there was Hester, Renee, and Rakan. If I had to choose from this group, hands down it was Hester. The rope bodice she created was so high fashion, very pretty. I loved how there was a soft and hard aspect to this look that really complimented each other well.

The judges’ winner however was Renee. I don’t see how this won or was in the top. I don’t feel she repurposed the unconventional materials much or at all. Christian basically said earlier in the episode that this just looked like a tarp jacket with a bunch of stuff thrown on it. And really, that is all it was. Even Renee said she didn’t see herself in comparison to what everyone else created, so that being said, I don’t see how she received such high praise. Put her green jacket against what Venny created, you can’t tell me there is not a huge difference!

Another confusing top placement — Rakan! This look would have been in my bottom. The gauze felt so plain and sad. I will admit what he did with the sleeping bag was better than what Jamall did, but I do not see this as a top look.

Just as I was confused at some of the top, I was also confused just as much on the bottom looks from the judges. I get that Sonia’s model had difficulty walking in this look, but there was at least a good bit here to discuss. Yes, some was negative, but in comparison to some of the other super bare minimum looks, there was at least a story here, someone befitting of being in nature. I am glad at least Sonia had a fan in Karlie.

I would be surprised if Kovid has longevity in this competition, but I also didn’t see Afa going all the way either. Of this bottom 2, I think the wrong decision was made in sending Afa home over Kovid. Kovid hasn’t been super impressive thus far. He clearly showed no direction in this look. There was way too much going on. Yes, there was lots of color, and I agree with Nina, the pants were really cool. But he doesn’t know how to edit and I just don’t see his childlike spastic behavior making it much further.

Again, I don’t think Afa was going far in the competition either. So being overly upset he went home now, I can’t put myself in that mindset. What I do find issue with though is how annoying the judges were being in trying to validate this decision. They made a point to give the model a blanket twice. Okay, it was cold outside, but she was hardly the only model who was barely covered. If that was part of their criteria to send him home, why not Garo, why not Tessa? Those 2 models were half naked too. This is Tessa’s look below. Now don’t get me wrong — I do not hate this look. But are we going to pretend this model wasn’t cold either??

I don’t think he did anything too amazing with the rope. And the flowers he made were kind of corny and not super chic. But he was far more innovative in his work than what Renee did by just tacking a bunch of camping gear onto a green tarp! I wasn’t in love what what he did, but I wouldn’t say it wasn’t innovative.

The Last of Project Runway on Lifetime!

This is the last showing of Project Runway ever on Lifetime, and probably the last all-stars season for a bit, which does make sense! So to crown the World Champion of Project Runway, it was great to see these last 4 designers give us a truly spectacular runway, leaving the series to go out with a bang on Lifetime!

The designers met Alyssa at Baccarat in NY. For such a glam environment they were in, it was the right mindset to be in for inspiration with the designers’ final collections. Each designer would create a 6 piece collection and the perk, it could be any theme they wanted. Their budget at Mood would be $3000, with 4 days to create it all. Another perk, the designers would get some help in the workroom.

Model casting began at the luxurious hotel. The designers would also sketch there as well. Biddell was thinking of conspiracy theories, the Queen of England as a reptile! Irina was wanting to do something very geometric, very sculptural — to work with deconstructing shapes and creating a 3-D aspect. Michelle was inspired by a favorite album, Harvest Moon, so she wanted her collection to be called Harvest Mood. And finally, Dmitry didn’t seem to focus on a clear direction, but rather creating a killer jacket.

The designers were off to Mood to shop. Biddell found a fabric Anthony Ryan used, but thought heck, it fit with this theme, he would risk it! It was then back to the workroom to finish up Day 1 for the designers’ work. Everyone was planning, then many starting full-fledged looks. Dmitry was intent on keeping a schedule. Irina was not on this same path as her first day was spent cutting triangles, no draping and no patterns.

For Day 2, the designers’ helpers arrived! Mondo would work with Irina, Erin Robertson with Dmitry, Sean Kelly with Michelle, and Christina (from this season) with Biddell. Anne came by for her check-ins as well on this day, and the helpers stepped aside for a break during this time. Anne loved what Michelle was doing; she even tried on her bold green jacket! She reminded Michelle to take her somewhat frumpy fabrics and to give them elegance. Onto to Dmitry, she put in his mind how this could be a triple win for him — the only designer who could nab that title! She loved his jacket he was so focused on, but asked him to add a little sexiness to his work. Jumping then to Irina, she noticed 2 very similar red looks and suggested her collection needed more ebb and flow. And finally, with Biddell, she really loved his interesting fabrics and the manipulative work he was doing. She questioned if there was cohesion and pushed he find that connective thread.

On Day 3, well really throughout the episode, we were taken back a little on each designers’ journey, personal confessions of why they want to win. Irina experienced a mini meltdown, which was understandable given what her mom was going thru. The models also came by for their fittings. This mostly went well. Michelle changed up her looks a bit and Irina finally found herself in a better place.

The last and final day quickly came, and there was lots left to do. Little bit of a bummer, the helpers were only there for 3 hours. Brand consultant, Francesca Amfitheatrof (formerly of Tiffanys), also stopped by for a visit. She discussed with the designers how important branding is. Michelle thought of for this collection, peach romantic moodiness, very emotive looks. Dmitry was going with a dark, romantic, graphic collection. Biddell was set to be the dramatic showman. And finally, with Irina, she was pursuing bold femininity, which actually is something I always see for her, really sticking to her true designer aesthetic. To end the day, the designers had a little champagne and cake celebratory moment.

The morning of the runway was filled with still a good bit to do for each designer, lots of final finishes, details and even doing some re-fittings. Dmitry had a minor snaffu with one of his jackets, but handled it like a pro! Even at 15 minutes left, many models were still not dressed! Of course fast finisher Biddell was doing a little rapping! But rapping aside, it was time for the runway. This show would be in front of the NY Fashion elite and many previous Project Runway designers. The guest judge for this finale was actress Andrea Riseborough.

So first up, I will discuss Biddell. He pushed his street-style with aggressive elegance, giving us Regal Reptilian. I have not been a fan of Biddell most of this season. His aesthetic is just not my thing. But I really commend him for this impressive collection. I would have to agree with the judges in his 4th place finish though. While I loved so many of his fabric choices, I didn’t love everything he did with them and how some of the final looks resulted. Using a corkscrew like fabric was so interesting, but the zipper down the front of that dress, it just lacked sophistication.

I loved the 2nd look, such fierce pants, but this super long-sleeved top was too much for me. The judges even pointed out the sleeves being too long! With this skirt 3rd look, I thought the fabrics used here were super stunning, and I loved the top, so chic. But the skirt was far too boxy for my taste.

The 4th look, shades of blue, again, such a killer pair of pants. His use of mixed media in this look was so amazing. But the jacket, it was so flared, really just took away from this piece. The 5th look, the shorts piece, definitely the worst for his collection, even with the judges agreeing. I couldn’t find anything positive here, such an ill-fitting look. Up until the final gown piece, I can’t say that I fully loved any complete look, but this last look, this was a stunner. It was so luxe and regal, which really Biddell needed for some of his other pieces. I also didn’t care for his styling choices here with the braided pigtails & huge jewelry pieces. I really think Biddell could use some help editing! Everyone was right here in saying this collection did lack cohesion. He has a clear designer POV, but there was just so much going on here, as the judges pointed out, this work needed some finesse.

Deciding 3rd was tough for me because I love both Irina & Dmitry. I wouldn’t want to offend either. The judges gave it to Irina, but I think ultimately I would have given that spot to Dmitry. He never really settled on an identity for this collection. Before presenting he just said this was his personal journey as an artist I guess coming to life. I think the lack of specific direction here hurt him. These looks were super Dmitry like, but I can’t say I saw growth here, or any elevation. I saw more from Irina in that regard, so 3rd would have been Dmitry in my book.

You can’t take away from his stunning red jacket opening look. The cutouts were beyond amazing. And these pants, I mean anyone and everyone, including Isaac is obsessing over them. I don’t know that any other look really matched this level of success.

The next look in the black LBD, it was a little too short, and I didn’t care for the shape of the over-sized sleeves, but I did love the shimmery neckline. The 3rd dress look, it had great Dmitry cutouts, but the sleeve pads, the fringe, it was probably the weakest of his looks.

I don’t think Dmitry had great cohesion here and this next yellow dress probably didn’t help that concept. It was a great color. I appreciated the drama, but the side embellishments I don’t feel were needed and the length again, way too short! The 5th look, another pants piece, I did like this look. The sheer top was spectacular. The pants, not as good as the first pair, but still an overall competent look. The last look should have been a bang, but I didn’t feel that with this dress. I loved the sheer aspect, but again, wish it was longer. I got what the judges felt here in wanting more. Dmitry even teared up some on the runway, but I agree with the judges, this collection was not enough for the win!

I would love nothing more than to have given Irina the win, but I don’t think this collection beat Michelle. Michelle really did find some magic. But I can very much feel good in saying Irina should have been 2nd. I appreciate that Irina pushed herself here. As much as I wanted to see 6 super glam, super luxe looks from her, including some killer gowns, I love that she gave us that more commercial, more RTW side, really showing that she can do it all. I don’t know how you could have paired some of what she did here with the gown/dress goddess vibe I love from her. But if that magic could have been found, hands down she would have won.

With this collection, it was very RTW, still some super luxe looks, but varied silhouettes. I think to really perfect what she was aiming for here, she also was lacking a bit in time. Other designers were relying on fabrics and prints to do their work. Irina was creating her own, making her own textures, and so in that regard, it wasn’t about simply cutting fabrics and patterning. But this collection still embodied what Irina set it out to be, the strength of a modern woman, Fearless Femininity.

Her first look, a jacket look, I did love this blue piece. I felt the top to bottom lacked some connectivity, but overall, I really liked this piece, solid opener, really showing this sculpture and geometry she was aiming for.

I agree with the judges, the 2nd look was probably the weakest. I didn’t love this color choice in lime green, but I appreciate the direction she was aiming for. I thought the 3rd look, red & pants piece, very solid and I loved the pants here.

The next piece, the red dress, my fave of the collection. It was super chic and so cute, still very sculptural. I’m afraid of white pants, lol, so I don’t think I could rock those in this next look, but I loved the black sculpted top, so interesting. The judges raved over the final all white lace look, but I still contend the red dress was the best! I agreed with the judges that there was a heaviness to some of her pieces, which really didn’t go with her last 2 lighter pieces.

Super hard to take away the win from Michelle though. She really did pull out every stop here and I hope she can take some of this magic home, to revitalize her business. Her goal was textured baroque, romance, nice to naughty, her Harvest Mood collection. The first piece was stunning. I don’t know why everything looked so short for me, but other than length, I loved the peach color and the mixture of lace work.

The 2nd look has grown on me now and I really do like it. Fierce pants and such a shimmering and shiny, eye-catching top. The 3rd look was a little repetitive then to this 2nd look. It was a great fabric choice, but not as successful as the 2nd look.

It was that look and the full peach look that were the weaker links for her. But neither took away from the supreme quality of the other 4. The fully peach look just felt a little too voluminous. The green jacket look, such a success. Everyone would want that jacket, and whatever was under it looked amazing too.

And the final piece was a great closer. The fabric was another solid choice, so sexy and dramatic. Probably what I didn’t care for more than any of her looks was the big hair — way too over the top with already such a voluminous collection.

I do congratulate Michelle on this win. So what again does she win —

  • Guest editor for Marie Claire
  • chance to also collaborate for an editorial and photospread for Marie Claire
  • Create a signature color for Butter London
  • A trip for 2 to London, sponsored by Butter London
  • a $40,000 Brother Sewing package
  • a cash prize of $100,000

So no more Project Runway on Lifetime, but ready for the focus now on this new season on Bravo!

Designers Go Print-Tastic

I was a little uneasy with this week’s challenge! Head to toe print looks, that is a lot, especially when picking that perfect print which could make or break one’s look. Prints are a huge trend in the industry, so successfully taking on this task and thriving would be a great feat for any burgeoning fashion designer.

A little bad news for the designers however — no more 2 day challenge. We are now at the first one-day challenge! Last week’s winning designer, Sebastian, in getting to choose his model, decided to keep who he was working with. The rest of the bunch had to race to get their first choice. Nadine ended up with one of the plus size models and was less than thrilled. She claimed to be a print pro, but I would think a person who can work with prints, should be able to design for all.

Some great news for the designers, they were going to receive some expert help from celebrity stylist Marni Senofonte. But first, the designers had 15 minutes to sketch. Tessa was one who definitely felt worried as prints really do not fit the mold of her minimalist asethetic. It was then off to Mood with a $250 budget. Rakan decided to go with a more somber, bland print, despite Christian’s suggestion to rethink that choice.

Getting back to the workroom, the designers first met individually with Marni. She discussed with the designers how integral styling can be for any look to be viewed as a success. After her visit with Marni, Tess seemed a bit calmer. Hester was beginning to have a little self-doubt though. We heard a bit of her backstory, kind of sad, seeing that her aesthetic was not suitable to her design school professor and she actually got kicked out.

Christian was beginning his Siriano sessions, helping some with their styling choices. The models later came by for their fittings. Nadine seemed to have zero patience with her model. She was even stressing over her model’s walk. Most of the designers seemed to be doing okay, and that trickled over to the next day, the day of the runway. Afa was one that certainly was still receiving a bit of help in styling his look.

I was excited to see how this runway was going to go! And joining this week’s panel was the first guest judge, designer Adam Selman.

I noticed 2 designers used an army fatigue print, REALLY! All of the prints and 2 chose the same unimpressive one — CRAZY! I loved Venny’s jumpsuit and the print he chose. However, his print didn’t really translate well on the runway, or really when photographed, so I wish he had chosen something a bit more eye-catching. Bishme’s look would have been in my bottom list. He chose a bold print, striking color in red, but the look was too “big” — big shoulders, a big hat (which was not great), big train. He could have toned this look down some.

Jammall would have been in my top group. I have to give him a little credit now since I have been hating on him most of the season. I loved his print, such a sexy, chic look. I also really loved Tessa’s look. I don’t understand why she still didn’t love this look. She stayed true to her aesthetic and I loved the print she chose.

For the top though, the judges chose Hester, Kovid, and Sebastian. Hester ended up winning, which I don’t agree with, but I am not going to put down too much. She really stuck the right balance of quirk with this look. I wasn’t ready to go on the picnic, but I appreciate her work here. I loved the accessories she created for her look!

I get why Kovid made the top for the judges. He was back to his street chic style, doing a fantastic job. I thought he chose a great print. And who can’t appreciate a strong comeback, which he did from the work last week. I didn’t love this look at much because it read very heavy to me and super streetwear is not really my taste.

The judges were salivating when Sebastian’s look came down the runway, so clearly he was making the top. I loved the silhouette, such great structure, an amazing flow. His quality of work is so superior and he really does have top construction skills. My issue here was the print he chose. I didn’t find it to be super striking.

The bottom consisted of Rakan, Nadine, and Garo. I don’t agree with Garo being in the bottom and am happy he escaped the bottom 2. I actually really liked his look. I loved the poppin’ pink color and this look felt bold to me. I get what the judges were saying about the crotch though.

Rakan being in the bottom was no shocker though. He really did choose such a boring print. And the look he created, too much coverage on his model, very messy feeling, super drab. The look really had no life in it.

But the writing was on the wall it would be Nadine to go this week. And I can’t say it wasn’t deserving. The print she chose was unimpressive. I still don’t think she can make pants. I have seen her make several pairs now and none of them seem to fit well. I did like the open back though. I would also give her that this model is not the best walker, which I know she complained about. But a good walker is not going to magically make your look better.

And then listening to her on the runway, she was being so unkind to her model and I am glad the judges called her out on that. The message is clear, no attitudes this season! First it was Cavanagh and now Nadine. Although I feel Nadine acted far worse, especially in this episode. She rolled her eyes constantly during the runway critiques. She was instantly complaining backstage since she was in the bottom. She even called the judges bitches — REALLY? This was the sign of someone with not just a bad attitude, but someone who clearly believes they can do no wrong. It was sad to see. And to see her then say she was ready to go home, wow, how defeatist. At least Cavanagh handled her elimination with some professionalism and class.

The First PR Season Team Challenge!

We all know what this means! We see some sparks of genius from some designers, while others become an utter disaster! And with this bunch of designers, this trend was no different. The episode began with the designers walking into a transformed workroom. They were able to see a pop-up installation from Simon Huck & his A. Human body modification exhibit. The exhibit featured live models with special effect-like transformations to parts of the human body.

Of course this pop-up was the inspiration for the challenge. There were 5 types of body modifications. With 5 types, this meant there would be 5 teams of 3 for this first team challenge! Each team would create a mini collection, each designer creating their own look. Despite individual looks being made, each mini collection still needed to be cohesive. The looks would need to demonstrate the future of fashion. Additionally, their looks needed to highlight their assigned body modification — so enhance the special effect, not cover it up!

The teams were randomly chosen from the infamous button bag. And with a revamped season, we get to see a new button bag! It actually looked more like a clear clutch, but oh well, it does the job. Here were the teams and the assigned body modifications —

  • Shoulder Horns — Garo, Hester, Nadine
  • Neck Ruffles — Afa, Sebastian, Tessa
  • Scaffold Back — Lela, Venny, Bishme
  • Chest Feathers — Kovid, Renee, Frankie
  • Necklace/Neckline — Sonia, Jamall, Rakan

I didn’t recall from the last challenge that the winning designer was given immunity. So with that, Tessa could not go home on this challenge. There would be a winning team with a winning designer, also again receiving immunity. And then 1 losing team, with one designer going home. The winning designer also gets to choose their first pick for a model, leaving the rest to race to the comp cards to get their choice, or for some, just what is left.

This was another 2-day challenge, with a $750 team budget from Mood. Before shopping, the teams had to sketch & game-plan first. Most of the teams were doing okay. Hester was getting a little crazed with her team, really trying to make sure she didn’t lose her designer POV. Tessa’s team was also finding difficulty getting on the same page. And these 2 teams still found trouble at Mood. Tessa’s team was lost, trying to find cohesion. And Hester was determined to get a ton of tulle. Christian nor her teammates were feeling this. And even with being overbudget, the team still sacrificed fabric for tulle.

Getting back to the workroom, Tessa decided to take charge of her group. Frankie having been in the bottom last week had her teammates worried, namely Renee. Hester was being a little chatty and Nadine nipped that in the butt. And even though Tessa decided to put on her boss hat, she was having trouble executing the design she wanted. Her teammate Sebastian had to help, but ended up losing time for his own look. In fact, he ended up scrapping everything he worked on with Day 1, meaning he was starting all over on Day 2.

On the 2nd day, Sebastian had a new gameplan — he was going to work on his own garment, no teammates getting his help, even though they were still asking! It was a little disappointing to see some not so pretty personalities come out with this team challenge. I am intrigued by Hester’s aesthetic and love what Tessa has created thus far. But both really showed poor personality skills when working in a team setting. You can be a bold, strong, confident woman. But don’t be overly bossy or unrealistically uncompromising.

Siriano sessions included reminders to find cohesion. Christian said it couldn’t be just a color that created cohesion. He also reminded the designers of time management! After the chats, Hester decided she wanted to change her look, lose some of the tulle. She needed fabric, but since her team didn’t get that much fabric (remember, she insisted on tulle!), she was kind of left with no wiggle room. Nadine was saying No at the onset. I didn’t really care for Tessa being a part of this discussion; she is not on this team so butt out! Nadine ended up later changing some of her design so that she could give Hester some fabric.

Next up, model fittings! I love that Christian really seems to be sticking around for more than just one session. This is where Kovid began losing steam and he started crying, definitely taking over Frankie’s drama queen role. Kovid was having some fit issues with his model. The morning of the runway quickly approached and many teams were scrambling right up to the last minute. Again, designers working up until the runway show was about to begin!

Only 2 teams were critiqued this week, the top & the bottom. So despite Hester’s team craziness, they were safe. And they were lucky! I actually loved the blue they used, but most of the looks were constructed so poorly. They worked with their shoulder horns well, but the looks were vastly unimpressive. I don’t think Nadine can make pants. I’ve seen her do 3 pants looks now and they are all way too tight. But her structured top was the strongest piece here. Garo seemed to make such a simple dress, very sad it was still so poorly made. And I liked the softness Hester was trying to go with to contrast the hardness of the horns, but you couldn’t see past the poor construction in this look! I couldn’t even focus on finding the future of fashion in any of these looks because the construction was just that bad! Luckily for this team, other teams were also riddled with issues.

Even though the necklace team had some issues, Sonia was their saving grace. I loved her fabric choice, so stunning! She really showcased this light up neck feature so well. And I did like the idea of using nude fabrics with this entire group because it highlighted the body modification very well.

The looks went downhill from Sonia’s bombshell opener. Rakan just created a big nude moo moo. There was absolutely no design in this.

And then the big bragger Jamall, his look actually took away from the neck modification rather than enhancing it. And really, what was this, attack of the bed comforter?? I didn’t see the future of fashion with these looks either, but I am still in love with Sonia’s look!

It was hard for me choosing between the back scaffold and the neck ruffles team as to who should win. Ultimately, I agree with Neck Ruffles winning, but Team Back Scaffold did a pretty good job here too. I loved that Bishme brought back his super sexy style. I guess his attempt with the future of fashion was playing with the shoulders on his dress. I didn’t care for the pointy shoulders, but it was a great dress (photo below on right). Venny continued with the sexiness, a standout jumpsuit (photo above). I appreciated for the future of fashion he played with the jumpsuit silhouette. And of course given that this collection had to showcase back scaffolds, all the open backs were even more amazing to look at! And what a comeback for Lela! Such a gorgeous voluminous top, very glam chic. There was such great cohesion in this collection, between the color, ruffles and glam vibes, probably the best of the bunch.

I too loved Team Neck Ruffles. I think what held me back a little here was it being all white, very one note, lacking a bit in dynamics. But ultimately, it was still a strong, regal collection. Afa had a solid look, nice fit on the pants and an interesting, cut-out bodice.

Tessa created another strong look, very upscale and luxe. All really did attempt to work towards the future of fashion, putting in interesting twists on their silhouettes.

But wow, Sebastian really just knocked this out of the park. He wins for basically doing some of Tessa’s look and creating his own knockout look. Tessa certainly tried to go for the win saying she took charge, but she didn’t help her situation when she admitted to having help on her look. Great job Sebastian, well deserved win!

I wasn’t sure who would be in the bottom between Team Chest Feathers and the shoulder horns team. Both teams were so heavily featured during the episode, so both could have been contenders. But ultimately it was team chest feathers. Given Frankie was on this team, I wasn’t surprised. She still had so many construction issues in her look. It was a step up from her last look, but that is not saying much.

I did at least see cohesion in this collection, but each look was such a hot mess. And most of the looks hid the chest feather modification. This lifted wraparound neckline, with a bold line going right thru the feathers, where was the logic in that. As seen below with Kovid’s look, I think if you actually took away the connecting piece from the neckline to the dress, and this gold dress was sewn better, it could have been amazing. But ultimately, the future of fashion also missed the mark for everyone here as well.

Renee has been such a standout, so it was shocking to see she even created a poor look. The pants & top were so ill-fitting. And the binding jacket didn’t work either. There was no leader here, but Renee was doing some of the talking for the group during the critiques. Kovid was crying which Nina seemed to not be having any of that. And it obviously crossed the judges mind in saving Frankie, only to see her in the bottom again. Kovid probably had the best look of the bunch and Renee has shown much more potential. It was clear Frankie was the one who needed to go!

Project Runway is Back to Bravo!

Project Runway is back for a brand new season and back to its original home network, Bravo! And while much can be said to it being revamped in certain aspects, is it really that far off from where it has always been? My answer is No. Many fans said having the show moving back to Bravo would make it better, so is that really the case? Hard to tell from the first episode, but I am not seeing a huge difference yet — quality of the work is not much different than what we’ve seen in previous seasons, the format is still the same (i.e. top/bottom 3, eliminations, 1/2 day challenges, etc.).

Do not get me wrong — I love Project Runway! I will continue to blog about it because I am a long-time, avid fan. However, I am not seeing much by way of differences with this network move. Yes, the show has been updated in certain aspects, which was much needed! A new runway to showcase the designer looks, this should have happened ages ago. As well as giving the designers a more open, larger workroom space. And yes, this was a fabulous new addition for this new bunch of designers. But ultimately, I am seeing the same format from before, nothing to get too overly excited for.

But yes, this move back to Bravo of course prompted some other changes to this show, that while yes, are new, I don’t know that it’s changing PR at its core. The underlying fabric is still there, we just now get some new additions and fresh faces to continue the phenomenon that is Project Runway! And so by fresh faces, first we have new mentor Christian Siriano. I will miss Tim Gunn, but hearing a young designer, someone who competed on the show, and who is really so active in the fashion world presently, I think this was a great change for the show and I think Christian will do well in this role.

We also have a new host, replacing Heidi Klum is mega supermodel Karlie Kloss. I liked Heidi, but I am totally fine with a new host and interested to see what Karlie brings to the table. I guess in a sense of replacing Michael Kors/Zac Posen, we have established designer Brandon Maxwell. I am not as familiar with his work, but eager to see how he is on the panel and what his perspectives are. I know we will have some guest judges this season, but still full-time for the panel will be journalist/former Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth. I always will welcome a fresh voice, but wondered if there was really a need for 4 on the panel since we still have one unchanged judge in that of Nina Garcia, as well as guest judges?

So I am eager to see how the fuss of a network move and these other changes will impact the show! We began with 16 brand new designers meeting at a launch party, including editors and influencers. Each designer brought with them a look to showcase their work in order to provide a first impression. I will give some thoughts on this later in my individual challenge critiques.

Learning the prize package for this season’s winner was good. I wondered if it would be more, but really it wasn’t. So the winner will receive $250k provided from Pilot Pen; a feature in Elle magazine; $50k to be put towards a design studio courtesy of Bluprint; & a mentorship with the CFDA. Still an impressive prize package for the winner!

The first impression looks showcased at the launch party were important to see, but really what it would be all about is the first challenge looks created. For this first challenge, each designer was assigned a photo from the past for one of the 4 judges. This photo represented a moment each judge recognized fashion was their passion. The designers would use the photos as inspiration to create a look. Brandon’s image was one of his mom in a fashion show. This made him think of the women in his life and how strong and confident is mom is. Karlie’s photo was her first runway show, such a huge moment for her. Nina showed hers from a time when she was in South America, on a boat, taking part in her first photoshoot from an internship with her first magazine. And finally, Elaine brought her first cover from when she worked with Ebony magazine. This was the first cover shoot ever for a woman of color, celebrating that, making any woman feel truly empowered.

We then saw the new workspace so of course the designers could get to work! They met Christian, and checked out the new Brother sewing room. They also received some new sketching materials, including Pilot Friction pens. The designers had 20 minutes to chat with their assigned judge and then 20 minutes to sketch. This would be a 2-day challenge. They also were given their model comp cards, where we learned the models would still be all shapes and sizes, as seen from the last season of Project Runway. And then to wrap up a busy first day, the designers finally landed at their new designer penthouse home in Brooklyn.

The first day of the challenge officially started with a trip to Mood, given a $250 budget. Some of the designers were getting lost looking for fabrics. Others were complaining about the budget being too little, namely Cavanagh, while others were gracious to receive such a large sum. Hester seemed to have the most trouble at Mood and ended up picking a fabric she had never worked with, which she later regretted. I did like how she handled that stress though, much better than we saw from others later on, namely Frankie.

Day 1 of the challenge was really all about getting things going, figuring out directions for the looks. But day 2 was going to be jam-packed with Siriano sessions and model fittings. Each workday is 12 hours. And boy, that workroom looked like a mess from day 1! We also learned about a new aspect for the show, to take in with the business savvy times, e-commerce mindset. PR would be partnering with Nineteenth Amendment to sell winning pieces right after the show. The judges pick and America’s favorite look would be sold. This will be interesting to see any differences between what the judges think and that of America’s opinion. The looks would be sold on As of right now, I only notice one look on the website and that was the winning look for this week. And then for some of the challenges, the designers would be using Instagram to show their looks thru a creative photo on the IG story.

Christian did a great job during his Siriano sessions. He gave such great insight, really giving such focus and attention to each designer. He made sure to remind a few of fit issues, and then of course, time management! Christian will also stick around for model fittings. Cavanagh had some fit issues with her jacket and decided to scrap it. Kovid was ecstatic to learn his model was transgender, a PR first. And this is where Frankie’s major freakouts began.

This whole episode could have been boiled down to the Frankie & Cavanagh show. Cavanagh with her strong, blunt opinions, and Frankie with her incessant crying and pity me party. Spoiler alert, they were the bottom 2, so no surprise there! I was very much ready for the runway to begin. So for the day of the runway show, the designers were up at 5 am, with 2 hours in the workroom. Frankie seemed to be in better spirits, but was also getting a lending hand from multiple designers. Cavanagh actually asked her model for help, which I thought made more sense versus having a fellow designer take time from their look to help you out.

The “morning of” also had to consist of Tresemme hair & Maybelline makeup work. Additionally, the designers had to take their Instagram photos. The work really continued right up until the runway started. And literally I felt as if 6 people were still helping Frankie out. Christian had to call for “needles down.”

This first runway was great to see, just in what the designers created for this initial runway, but also to compare a bit with their showcase piece from the start of the episode. And I saw a lot of fit and construction issues for several designers, so not sure how this bottom 3 was selected?? For example, with this photo above, how super thrilling was this? Was it too not pretty basic? It was also constructed poorly and not fit well. Bishme had such a super sexy first look and being assigned the Karlie photo, I thought he would have nailed his look. But he didn’t and it was very blah! And Jamall bragging every chance he got, neither of his looks were worthy of such accolades.

But 2 looks that didn’t make the top, and perhaps should have, were Kovid & Sonia. Kovid’s flowing goddess gown was effortlessly stunning, which was great to see he could do from the more streetwear look he showcased at the beginning of the episode. And Sonia really hit both looks out of the park. She can do drama, but can also do chic glam, super luxe looks that so far, I love!!

Given how amazing Kovid & Sonia’s looks were, I was shocked that neither made the top over Venny. The top 3 consisted of Venny, Tessa, and Renee. Tessa and Renee I got, but Venny’s critiques were not very positive, so I wasn’t sure why he made the top?? His first look showcased was modern, chic, a very cool girl. He tried to keep a modern nod with this black dress, but this look didn’t do it for me. The nod towards a business vibe in the jacket, with the embellishments on the skirt, it felt really unresolved. And as the judges pointed out, where is this girl going?

Both Tessa & Renee did great work, so Tessa winning worked for me. I didn’t care for her first look. It seemed like a school project, with a straightjacket feel. It was such a step-up to this next look. The top was super cute, very wearable. The back was so interesting. This was a luxe, well styled look.

Renee designs in a more conservative aesthetic. Her first look was outerwear, definitely leaving me wanting more. But with this next look, I was sold. The model was covered up, but not in a mumsy way. The look was so well-made, great tailoring, really invoking such strength in this garment.

The bottom 3 was not totally incorrect, but there is no way anyone can say that Cavanagh had the worst look, the one being sent home. But before that debacle, let’s look at Lela who was saved first. Her first look was minimalist, but I wondered could she do more? She kept a minimal approach with this next look, but it was not executed well at all. Both the top and the skirt were too long. One part of the look should have been shorter. And I was left still wondering, can she do more?

But the bottom 2 was Cavanagh and Frankie, not a surprise from the focus they received all episode. I am still perplexed by this decision. Yes, Cavanagh had an attitude. Yes she created a very basic look. But at least she did it on her own, well mostly, and it was still well made and actually wearable. Someone who could barely create a bodysuit over someone who at least made 2 quality pieces — I just don’t get it!!

And yes, despite Cavanagh’s tone during the episode, she at least held composure and owned her mistakes. Frankie broke down all episode, so much crying. I didn’t care for those antics. And I guess what really struck me as most annoying was she had so much help to still have a look end up being so bad!! I commend Cavanagh for not throwing that tidbit of information out there! One could commend Frankie for trying something different I guess with this strip motif, but wait, let’s be real, she was making only a bodysuit, how basic! And really, where was this going that it would be considered super inventive or amazingly creative??

This decision still makes no sense. I don’t know that Cavanagh was really fit for this type of competition either, but Frankie is definitely not! Side note, I also liked the setup that now the safe designers can see the critiques with the top and bottom looks! This poor decision aside, I am ready to see this season play out!

The Final Task before the Finale!

Right here at the end of Project Runway on Lifetime, and probably the last All-Stars season for a bit. This is also the world championship, so there is a lot riding on these last 2 challenges. With 4 designers left, the road to winning will not be easy! And this penultimate challenge would not be an easy one either.

This week would be all about families. Each designer would create 3 looks for a modern-day family. The looks were to be cohesive as these looks would be incorporated into a family portrait. The Mood budget would be $400 and the designers would have 2 days. With the task details given, it was first time to sit with their families and gain inspiration for their looks.

While shopping, Biddell wasn’t sure about 1 of his looks. He finally finds his fabric, but Dmitry had already called it. There wasn’t much left on the roll, so this left Biddell with none. Of course, there was another roll that was found so crisis averted! Day 1 was all about laying out groundwork and really getting everything going. Biddell was unsure on cohesion, and Dmitry seemed a bit lost as well. Irina really wanted to add details into her looks, and Michelle was busy creating lots of pants!

Anne came by for her check-ins on Day 1. She reminded the designers to be cohesive. And that while it was important to please their clients, they also had to please the judges! And as Anne critiqued the looks, we also saw some typical designer shade. Michelle and Biddell had some choice words for Dmitry’s looks, which was laughable to me since they clearly had a good bit to worry with in their own looks!

Time for Day 2! Biddell came into the workroom with a new attitude, ready to inject some fun into his work. The family fittings were also a part of day 2. All of the families seemed very excited. Biddell was still at a loss on what to do with one of his looks. With this week being all about family, missing their own families naturally came to the designers’ minds, so they each made calls home.

I am sure 2 days flew by for the designers! The morning of, we saw our typical Michelle/Irina drama. Irina was not having any of the self pity for Michelle. Michelle was probably feeling a bit on edge because she had gone home at this point before, in her last all-stars season, being eliminated right before the finale. But nerves aside, it was time for the runway. Anne had some strong opinions during her critiques and that was rightfully so since she was this week’s guest judge.

I know we’ve seen in regular seasons of PR that right before the finale, no eliminations happen. So all 4 designers being safe was not super surprising. It kind of would have been more interesting if someone had gone home, but I guess with 4 left, we get to see some amazing final looks and it’s going to make naming a winner even tougher!

With 4 left, there was a top 2 and bottom 2. The top 2 were Biddell and Irina, with Biddell winning the final challenge. My choice would have been Irina. I really loved what she created for her family, very RTW, practical, wearable looks, but still with some fashionable touches. I think her cohesiveness was the best of the 4. The judges seemed to want a bit more, but bump them, they are being crazy! My only critique was the pants look, that maybe it would have been a bit better if it was a skirt because the pants led too a great deal of body coverage.

Biddell did a great job as well. I don’t think all 3 looks translated as being cohesive. The look for the daughter, I loved the print, but both the top and the bottom in the print, it was a lot. I think a solid color pant would have been better. And the bows, I mean they were cute and fun, but I don’t know if they were necessary. And if he wanted to do them, put them on the side of the pant, not the front. The look for the young man, this look was the best of the bunch. Loved the jacket and really just such a fun look! The dress he made though, I didn’t love this. Making the top portion akin to a varsity jacket, the dress lost sophistication and appeal. He didn’t know what to do on this look and this being what came to mind, I just didn’t get it.

This left the bottom 2 being Michelle and Dmitry. I don’t know who the judges would have sent home in this instance. It pains me to say, but of these 2 different family creations, I do feel Dmitry missed the mark. The dress he made was sublime. It showcased great touches of Dmitry. But the other 2 looks fell flat. Dmitry is clearly not a menswear designer and these menswear pieces felt dated, unflattering in fit, and very basic. And then with the pants look, it had no direction or resolution.

That all being said, I don’t think Michelle did much better of a job. She had one very youthful dress, striking print, and it was a standout piece. Similar to that of Dmitry’s looks, one amazing dress doesn’t do the trick though. The look for her kid, a jumpsuit, I don’t think this was something he would wear in the real world. Jumpsuits are high fashion, but not on the playground! I’d say a shorts look, cool graphic shirt, that would have been the better route. And then the look for the grandma, this was just way too much of that print. I liked the print, but it was too much. I think the better option here would have been the prints for the pant, and then a top, mainly solid, but maybe incorporating a little bit of the print perhaps along the neckline, or a strip across the bodice.

If all 4 bring their A-game for the finale, this is going to be such a tough call!

Designers Going to the Royal Ball

Well so okay, from my title, no, most of these designer looks would truly not be at any designer ball! I was a little underwhelmed with this overall runway. But really, for such glam, royally fitting looks, more time was needed. However, this is the best of the best, so what has to be done to whittle down the field, it had to be done!

Nina Garcia joined Alyssa on the runway to give the challenge details. Nina just got back from Thailand, so inspired by all of the colorful silks. This would play into the designers’ challenge. They had to create a modern ball gown, off to a royal ball, and use colorful silks. Nina also announced the winning designer would win a trip to Thailand. There would be a $300 Mood budget and this would be a 1-day challenge.

It’s getting down to the wire, but there is still some time it seems for designer shade! Lots of comments on all of Michelle’s choices of colors, but heck, even she seemed stressed on that one! Michelle and Irina banter on each other again. Anthony was discussing Biddell again, and how fast he works. I guess the biggest takeaway I was seeing this week was that Michelle & Anthony are not designers of the more formal type pieces, and this was a struggle for them. However, this is Project Runway, and it is expected there will be some elevated, red carpet challenges. No time really at this point for excuses!

Anne was soon around for check-ins. She reminded the designers to channel their girl, their client, going to a formal ball. She asked that Irina not think of a wedding cake, which given her final look, I don’t see how she thought her look was going bridal? And then with Dmitry, she mentioned his look needed to be more formal. I again question that comment given he was certainly one who had a more formal look than the rest.

It was later time for model fittings and the only ones ready were Irina and Biddell. That was not boding well for the final outcome of this runway. You could kind of tell where the results were going here, but nonetheless, I was interested to hear the judges’ thoughts. Joining the judges’ panel were Nina Garcia and fashion icon Iris Apfel.

From the final results, the judges comments, so obvious Irina was winning this challenge. Her look was a little sexy for a royal ball, but she really went for that modern feel. And her look was so well made, such a knock out!

Biddell was also a “contender” for the win, albeit not really in comparison to Irina’s look. His look could be at a ball, but it wouldn’t stand out. He chose a great color in red, but the boxy construction on the shoulders and waistline was not done well. The model looked so much bigger in this look.

I thought Dmitry was a closer to contender to win than Biddell, but he landed in the middle. The floral applique work on the bodice was stunning. I also like the cutouts on the bodice and neckline. The bottom was where this fell apart. The mix of fabrics, the varied lengths, it took away from the luxurious feel of the look.

The bottom 2 was obviously Michelle and Anthony. We have been left with a question on many bottom 2s this season. Does the stronger body of work designer go home, or the one with the weaker look on this given challenge? Sean Kelly was one saved where his body of work was stronger, but the week he was saved, he had the worst look. That was the case this week. Michelle has had a stronger season than Anthony, but ultimately, I believe she had the weaker look.

I get that more formal looks are not her forte, but that shouldn’t impact crazy color choices and a poorly constructed garment. I don’t get where she was going here with this type of patchwork design. I can’t see even if flawlessly executed, all the time in the world to work on, how amazing this would look and be fit for a royal ball, even in a modern sense.

It was Anthony that went home. I actually liked the idea of using feathers. I also didn’t mind the color choices of ivory and yellow. Where this fell apart was the silhouette, this oversized caftan style. Had he done this look in a more formal type silhouette, it would have been better received.

Next week’s previews have me nervous, I hope my fave doesn’t go home!

Designers See Stormy Weather Ahead!!

Project Runway All-Stars is getting down to the wire, so this runway was going to be a tough one! It was definitely an interesting challenge. Alyssa came on a TV screen like a news anchor, with a special report on climate change. With that in mind, it was the perfect segway for the challenge — to create resortwear that transforms from one climate to another.

Each designer had to do their own special weather forecast, where they would learn of their resort location and 2 different weather conditions. The challenge budget was $200 at Mood, with 1 day to create their transformative look.

While shopping at Mood, Christina was having fabric woes. However, it was Biddell once back to the workroom who was having insecurities. Quick jump to Anne’s critiques. She noted my exact sentiment in that this is the best of the best, so no room for error!

I don’t know if I would don any of these looks as a whole, but there were definitely some amazing separates in the bunch. The notion for the challenge was to create transformation, so in that dual role, I wasn’t surprised to not totally love an entire look. But I nonetheless was excited to still see the runway, see what resorts worked, and which climates were best served. I was also excited to see one of the guest judges, a fashion line I wholeheartedly love, Reem Acra. And also joining her was actress Cynthia Erivo.

I usually do my recaps in a breakdown of the top and bottom. Each look kind of got mixed reviews, but a clear top 2 were Michelle and Irina. I absolutely agreed with this assessment, but I would have given the win to Irina over Michelle.

Irina had the Moroccan desert and this look fit this to a tee. She had to face a violent thunderstorm and high winds. Her look had such drama for the winds, it was, no pun intended, mind-blowing! And her water resistant transitioned outerwear piece was genius. I also loved her color palette. Georgina was spot on to say that this look seemed super luxe.

Michelle’s look hit less marks for me, but overall, I still felt it was a great look. The mixing of prints was kind of tough, and it certainly received mixed reviews. But I did love each piece separately and the green color palette was a bold, striking choice. Her resort was Costa Rica, which I didn’t really see in this piece. She also had to deal with warm tropical winds and then a downpour. Her transition to the downpour, having a rain jacket, did hit the mark. But I didn’t see the original silhouette working with the winds.

Instead of a top 3, I felt we had a top 2, middle 2, and bottom 2. So the middle 2 were Dmitry & Anthony. I loved Dmitry’s look, and didn’t agree with all the mixed reviews. My only issues with him were that his transformation really wasn’t there — holding a coat is not what I feel the challenge called for. And then secondly, this coat wasn’t a standout piece for me. But his under maxi dress was super gorgeous. I loved the print and the lace detailing. His resort was Palm Springs, but I didn’t see that in this look. I did see a look fit for being in the sun and then transitioning to a cold front, even though again, the coat was not a fave for me.

I didn’t agree at all with Christina being eliminated this week. I didn’t care if she was in the bottom 2, but Biddell should have been out on his look. Before all of that, I will say Anthony Ryan didn’t do great work here either. I think he should have been in the bottom. I have never been to Whistler Mountain, but his look read more costume than resort. For his warmth need, his basic underdress was far too basic, nothing overly exciting. And then his outerwear piece for the snowy cold, I didn’t like it. The color choices were not a great pair, especially for this resort need. I agreed with the judges that he needed more here.

As I mentioned above, Biddell should have been out this week. I don’t get this at all and don’t see this being modern in any way, shape or form. I do think his color palette felt very Miami. But this was throwback and not in a good way. It worked with thunderstorms because I felt he made it out of plastic. And I didn’t see anything specific for hot or humid weather. He also said he was tired!! Send him home because at least Christina still had fight in her!

As disappointing as Christina’s exit was, I do wish she had done a bit more with her look. She created a bathing suit and a cover-up. I don’t feel this fit the challenge criteria very well of transformation. I did feel this would fit well in Mykonos. Her bathing suit was great for sunny weather, and the flowing cover up worked well with the wind. But it all read basic and generic as the judges pointed out. Nothing super original was seen here. And it did look like pieces you could go buy now. Not a standout look, but not worthy of sending her home. I would still wear everything she created, especially her cover-up.

Given this was tough seeing Christina exit, I know next week will be even tougher! I don’t see Biddell lasting much longer, so I wish he had left this week and Christina stayed. I think she was the strongest international designer left.